Williams College President Blasts Student Government for Rejecting Pro-Israel Group

Protesters call for boycott of Israel

Williams College President Maud S. Mandel condemned the college’s student government for refusing to recognize a pro-Israel student group.

In April, the student government at Williams College refused to approve a student group called “Williams Initiative for Israel” on the basis of its political stance. Now, Williams College President Maud S. Mandel is criticizing the student government for their attempt to silence a group of students based on their viewpoint and faith.

In a statement published on May 3, Mandel noted that the Williams Initiative for Israel planned not only to engage in pro-Israel activism but also planned to celebrate Jewish cultural events and holidays. She highlighted a portion of the student government code, which prohibits discrimination against students on the basis of their political viewpoints.

Mandel said that she was “disappointed” that the student government failed to follow the student government code, which ensures that elected student representatives don’t abuse their powers to reject proposed student organizations for discriminatory reasons.

We’ve always expected the Council to follow its own processes and bylaws. I’m disappointed that that didn’t happen in this instance. College leaders have communicated to the organizers of Williams Initiative for Israel that the club can continue to exist and operate without being a CC-approved RSO. This is not a special exception. It’s an option that has been open to any student group operating within the college’s code of conduct. Even without CC approval, WIFI or any other non-CC organization can still access most services available to student groups, including use of college spaces for meetings and events. I see the communication of this fact to WIFI as a basic matter of fairness and people’s right to express diverse views. Differences over such views are legitimate grounds for debate, but not for exercising the power to approve or reject a student group.

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